“Right to Repair” – why fighting for it

Beastie Boys once said: “You gotta fight… for your right… to party!

I know you sang that line in your head; it was such an iconic anthem and still is. Sometimes a good message (having fun isn’t bad, am I right?) must be carried by strong legs to get far.

Fight for a right... in this case right to party not right to repair. Picture of the Beastie Boys dressed for the Intergalactic video
Beastie Boys dressed for the “Intergalactic” video

Maybe the “Right to Repair” movement hasn’t found its supporting star yet, but one reason could be that only a few geeks seem to benefit from it potentially. That’s not entirely true, but let’s try to break this stigma together.

What exactly is the “right to repair” movement?

Well, it’s the idea that, before throwing away things you should try before to repair first, re-purpose second, and only if you can’t go the first two “r” you should recycle. That’s right, recycling should be the last resort, because – when it’s possible – repairing an item represents the more sustainable solution.

The problem with modern electronic devices, is that they are usually not designed to be repaired. They are designed to be sleek, user friendly and cool – because such features help selling devices – but repairability doesn’t produce a profit interesting enough for large companies. We can talk about this problem in another article, if you are interested.

To find more information you can go directly on the official European page of the Right to Repair movement.

OK, I’m intrigued, where should I start from?

I suggest to start from broken items you have in your home, not necessarily electronic devices, as kids’ toys, because they are prone to be broken and usually simpler than a consumer grade electronic device.

The first step is to be precise and efficient in disassembling the item you are working on, here you can find some good strategies:

  • taping down disassembled parts on a piece of paper;
  • drawing some references and placing the items on top of your drawing;
  • taking some photos while disassembling.

Things you will quickly learn to be important are:

  • a good knowledge of glues
  • a good set of screwdrivers
  • a lot of patience. My favorite motto is: “if you are struggling too much, then you are doing something wrong.”

After disassembling, you will perform your repair. Hopefully it’s something simple, but in many cases a multimeter will be helpful, at least to check if there is continuity where it’s supposed to be and no continuity where it shouldn’t be.

Don’t be too frustrated if, in addition to the original repair, you’ll have to fix also some problems you caused yourself during the disassembly. It happens and you’ll get better with time.

The last phase will be reassembling; do not overlook this part, because it’s the most common source of problems! Depending on the object, reassembling will be easier or more difficult, but you can increase your chances by going back to the documentation you took during the disassembly.

I can’t repair myself my devices, why should I care?

Even if you are not a tech guy, you still should support the movement for two main reasons:

  • a lot of small local businesses thrive on repairing phones and laptops; by repairing your devices you will help them to survive. Additionally, during times of crisis, more consumers rely on used devices to keep their lifestyle, and repairing them is key.
  • it’s good for the environment. Even if recycling is becoming more and more efficient, repairing a device usually consumes less energy and produces less landfill and CO2.

To support the right to repair movement you can keep an eye on repairability indexes of your favorite devices and take that into account as a parameter in your next choice. Different countries are trying to define rules and norms, but I suggest to check on YouTube or on the iFixit website to verify if a device could be repaired and how.

Will you take repairability in account in your next device purchase? We hope so!

Why is Business Analysis relevant here?

Well, first of all, Business Analysis is always relevant, but more seriously, the economy still rules, and if you care about the environment, you should also consider the soundness of the business model.

Circular economy, for instance, is not a straight-out-the-sixties hippie thing but has precise needs, demands change and requires specific solutions that can be investigated through the tools of Business Analysis. If you want to know more, you can read our previous article.

I want to end this article with a stimulus. We are all used to the make or buy analysis, why don’t we start introducing make, buy or repair?

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